We have to admit that there’s a massive transformation and in a way even a reset going on in the world right now. It’s happening in financial, economical, social, civil and political spheres. We’re not yet able to tell exactly what comes next, but we can already see that the world is rapidly changing.
So why don’t we refresh in our memory the 5 stages of accepting "the unexpected and inevitable". I’m sure you’ve heard of them before.
Stage 1. Denial.
Stage 2. Anger.
Stage 3. Bargaining.
Stage 4. Depression.
Stage 5. Acceptance.
The Denial Stage
There are many ways in which denial can manifest in our life. The most popular would be telling ourselves that things are soon going to be back to normal and making up various conspiracy theories.
Reactions at this stage often remind us of a child’s way to respond to something that scares them-hiding behind the curtain and being 100% sure they’re invisible and invincible.
But let’s face it: if you keep saying “everything is going to go back to the way it used to be”, “it’s all temporary”, “it’ll go away soon” etc. then you’re drastically slowing down your future wins! When you keep closing your eyes to the changes that have already happened, you’re doing your future self a major disservice.
What emotion is the Denial Stage based on? Fear. When we’re too afraid to look our fears in the face, we end up in denial. Let’s admit it: we are afraid of possible losses.
What can we do in this situation?
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything you’re afraid to lose. Be honest with yourself and list everything. Then to each of those ask yourself from the position of observer: “What exactly happens when it’s gone from my life?”. And jot down several answers.
Remember: fear is a blocking emotion. And unfortunately the Denial Stage lasts months or even years for some people.
It’s important to do everything in your power to get out of this state as soon as possible and move on to the next stage. And to do so effectively, as an option, you can intentionally make yourself angry.
Or you can experiment with intensifying your sense of fear, let it absorb you fully and as a result have your fear “explode”. It’s an NLP technique known as “compulsion blowout”.
If you’re a cardio fan and you go for a run every so often, here’s another idea for you: while you’re running keep thinking of everything you’re afraid to lose. And gradually increase your speed.. At some point you’ll get yourself pissed off enough to start yelling internally “What the hell?!”. Or may be not so internally, which is even better, to be honest with you. That will signify your readiness to shift to the next level.
Or, the easiest but still very effective way: play music that puts you in the “aggressive drive” mode and keep listening to it until you get there.
Those are all great ways to utilize your sense of fear and transform it into anger.
The Anger Stage
We feel angry when there’s a threat to at least one of our core values. For instance, now that we’re locked up at home under absolutely unclear conditions (compromised safety, predictability, social interactions etc., all very individual). What are we doing? Protesting, feeling angry and irritated.
In all honesty, we don’t need to constantly avoid such emotion as anger, but it would be a good idea to keep its level under control. Otherwise you can start taking it out on your family or coworkers and end up ruining relationships with them.
You also may begin directing it towards yourself and start beating yourself up for no reason, which is just as damaging. Thankfully, anger is an emotion that you can use in your own good, and you can do it by working with images, symbols. It’s called “working with submodalities” in NLP.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. When you feel ready, let yourself invite your anger in, and, collecting more and more of it in your body, write down everything you’re angry at/with. Sometimes the amount of anger is so great, that it makes tears come out, and it’s absolutely normal, keep going. It’s important to access that state, and when you feel like you’re there, ask yourself following questions:
Where in your body do you feel your anger? It’s often located around the neck and chest area.
If my anger had a color, what would it be? Red, green or maybe black?
What’s the temperature of it (if it has it)?
If my anger had a sound, what would it sound like?
Now you have the detailed (visual, audial and kinesthetic) description of the anger you’re feeling. Now you have an image of sorts, that you can transform into a lasso (or an arrow, or a hook), symbolically capture one of the goals you have and keep dragging it closer and closer.
In times of global uncertainty like right now it’s important to aim your anger at short-term goals - 3, 5, 7 days or so.
Another way of using up anger quickly is being physically active.
The Bargaining Stage
The Bargaining Stage is time of negotiations with yourself and of discipline many of us so severely dislike. Being disciplined it the times of chaos helps us achieve that state of balance we’re seeking.
Meaning that being at this stage you can already see the first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Do what you can with what you have where you are” Theodor Roosevelt
Any kinds of inner commitments you make help disciplining your mind. Start with just one thing: practicing yoga daily, or studying your favorite foreign language. Playing this game with your mind, you’re also training your will power, which is essential to succeed in anything you want to achieve.
In our present situation keeping up with your eating, sleeping and workout regimes is crucial. Also don’t forget about the rituals you have! Religious, esoteric, spiritual practices - all are powerful and important tools that introduce you to resourceful beliefs!
The only thing though..you gotta realize that the next stage is inevitable and it’s coming..
The Depression Stage
Here I should mention, that I don’t mean depression as a psychological disorder, but as an emotional state of unwillingness to do anything, when everything seems pointless. Why is this stage inevitable? You see such emotion as sadness is closely connected to anger. And one way or the other eventually anger does turn into sadness.
Therefore if you’re angry (at yourself, others or the whole world in general), then you’re 100% going to have your state flow into into sadness.
Just be prepared, and remember: this stage is the closest one to acceptance. You know how they say “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, right?
The Acceptance Stage
Only when you get to The Acceptance Stage you can actually do something good for yourself and for the world. Why is it so necessary to go through fear, anger and sadness first and only then get to the point where you accept the inevitable with no extra feelings attached? Our brain is designed the way that we can either experience emotions or make reasonable decisions. Neocortex, responsible for rational thinking, and the limbic system, that coordinates our emotions, often act like antagonists. Which means you can get either one, or the other, not both at once. And here it’s important not to deceive yourself and not to try to hide emotions from yourself.
Here’s the key: observe how you’re reacting to the changes, what stage you’re at and act accordingly. Remember: we’re in this together and we got it!